british

Layer Cake

As a Guy Ritchie fangirl, this used to be my go to film for those who’ve exhausted his roster of jacked up crime flicks.  Although, produced by the same company behind Snatch and co, Layer Cake is directed by another British Gem, Matthew Vaughan.  You heard me, the very same genius behind, say it with me, Kingsman.

In this audition for James Bond, Daniel Craig stars in this adaptation of JJ Connelly’s novel as a drug dealer planning for his retirement.  When asked by his boss to help locate a missing woman, and getting into a bad deal with stolen pills, his perfect plan gets derailed. Hi-jinx ensue.

This is not a simple rehash of your typical British crime flicks, but it does have that same list of quirky characters, interwoven subplots, and British slang you wish you could pull off without sounding like a twat.  It is a lot more colourful and upbeat in appearance (does that make sense?) than what you’ve seen from Ritchie, but still reminds you of the writing style.  If you’re in it for a complex story, or just for a British drug romp, this is the one, baby.

This also has both one of my favourite soundtracks and favourite scores, since you asked.

Great if you liked: Snatch, Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels, Gangster No. 1, Rock N’ Rolla, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Revolver, Fight Club, Reservoir Dogs

Advertisements

The Girl With All the Gifts

You’re kind of a film fan, right? So you’ve probably seen 28 Days Later?  And you remember that feeling you felt when you had stumbled across a lesser known foreign zombie flick and were like “hot dam.”  And on rainy days, scanning for something to do, you long for that feeling again, right?

I found that when I saw The Girl With All the Gifts.

This unsuspecting movie hit me totally by surprise.  It starts in some sort of military bunker where a a teacher is teaching to a group of young students who are strapped to their desks, glared at by seemingly disgusted soldiers.  It doesn’t rush to answer your questions, but it ultimately takes you on a ride through a post human universe where the children are the next mutation of a zombie virus which appears to have wiped out much of humanity.

Mike Carey, writer of both the inspiring novel and screenplay, brings his comic book sensibility to the big screen.  What is at its core a zombie film, reads more like the human panic of V for Vendetta, the confusion of mutation and technology of WE3 and the tests of humanity of The Walking Dead. (Comic book versions of all, to be clear).  It’s a story far deeper than your average “… of the Dead” flick, but doesn’t skimp on the snapping zombies.

I can’t say enough about this roller coaster through the not so distant future.  It’s acted so beautifully and is such a great take on the genre. You’ll also be pretty surprised by a lot of the cast.

A little birdie told me it is screening at The Royal in Toronto and I recommend you all check it out.

Great if you liked: The Walking Dead, V for Vendetta, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Morgan, Cloverfield, The Mist, Monsters

The World’s End

Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright never fail to make movie magic, and The Worlds End is no exception.

You might recognize this dream team from Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz (both of which will for sure pop up on here eventually).

Before he was stealing our hearts as Benji in the MI franchise or as Scotty aboard the Enterprise, Pegg was making comedy magic with a weird horror vibe with this dream team.

The World’s end is a beautiful story about five friends who fell out of touch after some real life turmoil.  Gary King (Pegg) wants to get the group together to take another attempt at their legendary pub crawl in the guys’ hometown.  After lots of begging, they agree, and set upon their mission to have a pint at The First Post, then on to The Old Familiar, The Famous Cock, The Cross Hands, The Good Companions, The Trusty Servant, The Two-Headed Dog, The Mermaid, The Beehive, The King’s Head, and The Hole in the Wall for a measure of the same, all before the last bittersweet pint in that most fateful terminus, The World’s End.

Along the way, they notice that their town has changed in a way they can’t quite put their finger on.  People seem ageless, strange, and… robotic.  The gang tries to solve the mystery, and survive it, but King never allows them to lose focus of making it to that last fateful pub.  Wright’s style really shines here in the doomsday at a pub niche he has created.  (His pint pouring quick cuts are a thing of beauty).

A hilarious romp about drunken friends that is more gifable than anything you’ve ever seen, non stop laughs, and a strange end of the world sub plot you don’t plan for, but on top of that, a really heart warming story about growing up, the troubles with our pasts, addictions, loss, and friendship.

I love this flick more than words, and could listen to Pegg fumble his way through the names of pubs non stop. And if you’re wondering, yes, he falls trying to climb a fence.

Great if you liked: Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, This is the End, Zombieland

In Bruges

 

As I sat watching the first two awards announced at the Oscars, fighting with my cable box for its inability to play “Room,” I realized all I needed for real Sunday entertainment was my DVD collection, and In Bruges.

A go-to for a lot of film fans trying to help out a bored friend, this British flick is at the top of British (…Irish) Drama game.

Colin Farrell stars as Ray, a hitman, who along with his “co-worker,” Ken (Brendan Gleeson) has been sent to Bruges, Belgium to await orders from their boss, Harry.

The plot unfolds in such an artful way that I don’t want to delve into it any more here.

Martin McDonagh, (the brilliant genius behind Seven Psychopaths), does what he does best here.  He creates a simple story about a lost hit man and coats it with a thick layer of allegory, meta-plot, blatant hints you don’t see, and a perfect peppering of humour.

Farrell, (who is, IMO, one of the top 3 most underrated actors of our time) really shines here as Ray.  He even won the Golden Globe for Best Actor for it…. (Sorry, Oscars and DDL, this was Colin’s year).

By treating “crime” the way it does, it really takes you into the life of these hitmen and out of your every day.  It’s dark, it’s sad, it’s funny, and it’s exciting, a difficult combo on which McDonagh doesn’t disappoint.

Great if you liked: Seven Psychopaths, Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake, Lucky Number Slevin, Rock N Rolla

Attack the Block

If you’ve heard me say “bruv” (and if you know me, you have), Attack the Block is the flick that got me saying it. This British sci fi follows a street gang in Brixton that stumbles across and kills an alien creature that pops out from a meteorite. Preparing for fame, they scoop up their creature to bring to “Hi-Hatz,” their weed dealer in their building. Things go “awry” when more meteorites land, dropping black, hairy, scary aliens that terrorize their surroundings.

John Boyega kills it in his feature debut as Moses, the gang’s leader. It’s a fun picture of British street gang life, and an unbelievable version of the “we’re under attack, what do we do?” trope.

This flick is so much fun and has a very cool “trapped in a tenement” sort of vibe with varying types of “rooms” that we liked in flicks like Snowpiercer (never heard of it? It’s coming up) and the book World War Z.

This is a great film if you liked: Kingsman: The Secret Service, any zombie movie, The Raid, Dredd3D